Boredom is a word that should not exist – but trust ‘scientists’ to bring it up. Canadian psychology professor John Eastwood is, according to the front page of a Wall Street Journal, researching boredom, what causes it and how to relieve it. Apparently bored people are more than twice as likely to die of heart disease than others. At the third annual Boring Conference in East London (the Ontario rather than the English one), 500 rapt attendees watched a boring presentation on – TOAST. Now the gal actually finds toast compelling. Look what luxury hotels do when you order toast for room service private-dining breakfast.
At Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara – in Montecito – toast presentation is fascinating, with no boredom coming into the picture. I order my breakfast and am in the shower when it arrives. Knock on door. Guest wrapped in bath-towel (nice and big, thank you Four Seasons) opens door. Man carrying tray comes in chattering nineteen to the dozen. I sign a check and disappear back into the bathroom. Three minutes later I hear a ‘thank you’ and a door close. I give it 30 seconds grace and emerge to find that the tray has disappeared. My Italianate, flower-covered table is now set with all the things I requested, plus extra home-made jams, opened and with spoons, and flowers, and a heated coffee mug, and plenty of coffee in a silver pot with a dark brown padded cover.
Oh yes, and the toast! Being in California I ordered sourdough; there is plenty of it, wrapped in orange linen, like the folded napkin, and it has lots of taste. I eat it, with butter that I am sure is artisan and local, like so much food in California these days, and I read about others being bored… Going back to toast, and thus to bread. I was anything but bored at dinner at the hotel’s most enjoyable Bella Vista restaurant. The bread presentation mirrored the fluted light fixture on the table. We had fabulous conversation as we sat just inside, in the inside-out restaurant. Inside there are two-sided working log-look fires, and outside there are fire bowls, and Bordeaux burners. Apparently when it is really hot the entire roof of the inside part pulls back.
This resort is, like Four Seasons New York and Las Ventanas, owned by Beanie Baby magnate Ty Warner and he personally designed the outdoor pool, with its mother-of-pearl lining, and mineral water hot-tub. He did the loungers, and the nearby herb garden. Oh the gardens here. Botanists go crazy, and anyone can take a self-guided tour of the 44 named species, or be led by specialist Ezquiel Gil, every Tuesday at 1100. I actually enjoyed running along the beach-front road, to Ty Warner’s Coral Beach Club (50-foot pool, gym, and hotel guests have access) and along the other way, to La Mesa Park. On one run I passed a bride being photographed. Turned out she, and the photographers, were part of a photographic workshop staying at the hotel.
There is action every minute here. Come sunset and the surfers and their boards are riding the waves in their dozens. Come early morning and hearty walkers, often in pairs, are striding the pedestrian road along to the hotel’s right. The first time I did that I passed these extraordinary things that look like green suction hoses, like those Parisian sweepers used in the days when they pooped around the Champs Elysées to suction up Fifi’s poop-poop (back then, owners had no embarrassment about their little dogs messing up the sidewalk, now it is much better). I find out that these green things are agave.
I personally learn something every minute, here at this hotel, which comes with a history going back to 1894. I learn how to turn off the overhead fan in room 461 (easy, that one) and how to recognize a Ficus Benjamina (weeping fig tree, also easy, it is named). I learned that chef Alessandro Cartumini, he of the red-rimmed eye-glasses, has come up trumps by pairing burrato not with the usual tomatoes but with roasted kale. I learned how admirable it is for designer Peter Marino to have put working log-look fires into the four (of 11) spa rooms that are double suites….. part of kaizen, girl, continual learning, and in one of the most memorable luxury beach-road hotels that comes with over a century of characterful history. Boredom? Not here. As I leave I, like all departees, am given a goody bag, water, an apple, nuts and raisins and a home-made cookie. Thoughtful style.